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THIS BOOK HAS TO BE A SERIES OF ESSAYS, NOT AN OVERARCHING THEORY. This is true for practical reasons but also because I am not really sure what to do with the vanguardia. I do not want to say, simply, that it is where mestizaje gets consolidated as a state theory, despite Freyre, Vasconcelos, et al.


I am interested in race and racism as a defining and structuring category element in Latin American literature. (This is not another study of mestizaje and not another study about differing definitions of race.) I am interested in race and state formation; mestizaje and discussions of differing definitions of race seem to go toward Volk and nation, but I am interested in racism and the state, the violence that is half covered and softened by discussions of mestizaje and love.

In this way I differ from Doris Sommer, someone else who has worked on 19th century, identity, mestizaje, and US multiculturalism.

I am interested in the way race sickly seeps through the text of María, evoked almost gratuitously, this topic that cannot go away. The evoke-and-elide strategy that I claim goes all the way through to Anzaldúa. I want to look at literary production as doing more than simply affirming state projects.


What to do with these notes around Cecilia:

– Ref. Bladi’s introduction to rev ib and Rahier in larr (do I need these critiques of mestizaje?)
– Brathwaite: impurity as origin – 20 years before Chamoiseau etc. said these things; again, do I need this?
– Cecilia is recuperated as impure national symbol now, but really she is what confounds the nation (or the state)
– and in Mexico there was creole elite consciousness in 19C … another reason why mestizaje as a solution is not new
– but despite Villaverde’s own obscure origins CV is a novel about limiting mestizaje (and I am guessing, María is in a more mythical realm, the realm
of forgetting somehow, a blurry realm

– Seeing like a state (codifying, organizing, hierarchizing) – while I am not sure the Scott reference is really necessary, the idea that people have to be taught to see like a state so that they conform to social order is important.
– Rahier in LARR 2004: mestizaje and other notions of cultural mixing have played central role in the creation of nations. Martinez-Echazabal (1998) says LA discourses on identity, development, progress, and nation were all racialized and between 1850s and 1910s were marked by an opposition of polarities – she says the two polarities are belief in inferior races and belief in hybrid; says both spring from idea of improving human race through better breeding and encouraging Western racial and cultural supremacy.
– The mestizaje paradigm took over – but note that mestizaje is polysemic. “Racial formation” captures the idea of race as a polysemic signifier (284). And the ideology of white supremacy at work in all LA racial formations behind the cover of an all inclusive mestizaje is undergirded by signifying practices that essentialize and naturalize human identities (I say these novels are examples of these). Is this my evoke-and-elide thesis again?

+BEHIND THE COVER OF MESTIZAJE the ideology of white supremacy is at work, undergirded by signifying practices that essentialize and naturalize human identities.+
This appears to be my own thesis, or close to it.

In Cuba the mulataje paradigm started to hold sway in the 20th century (de la Fuente). Racism was persistent in Cuba throughout three republics. It was almost apartheid-like before the Revolution and the later policies to improve access to the nation for Afro-Cubans have not eradicated race consciousness.

Peter Fry is one Brazilianist who deplores Brazilians’ current tendencies to think in terms of white and black. He says this “bipolarity” isn’t ontologically basic – although I don’t see how it can’t be in white supremacy; the way white and nonwhite are defined is immaterial.

Sheriff’s work: participates in the deconstruction of whiteness and middle class discourses, and contrasts these with the discourses of activist militants. Saying race is not important is something white people like to do….

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